New penalty program to encourage compliance with environmental regs

The new program makes it possible to give out financial penalties to violators

Ministry of Environment

The Ministry of Environment is introducing a new administrative penalty program to encourage compliance with the Environmental Management Act (EMA) and the Integrated Pest Management Act (IPMA).

The new program makes it possible to give out financial penalties to violators who fail to comply with an Act or regulation, or with orders, licences or permits issued by ministry officials.

The goal is to encourage compliance and discourage potential violators. Administrative penalties are to be used when non-compliance has a direct environmental impact or interferes with the protection of the environment.

This new program fills a gap between warnings and violation tickets for minor offences and criminal prosecutions for more serious offences.

Examples of violations include:

* Discharging waste without a required authorization;

* Releasing a substance into the environment that exceeds what is permitted under an authorization or regulation; or

* Failure to submit monitoring reports.

A violation will fall into one of four categories with maximum penalties of $2,000, $10,000, $40,000 and $75,000.

Each violation will be evaluated on a case by case basis with no fixed penalties.

Final decisions on penalties will be made by statutory decision makers within the Ministry of Environment.

While the ministry will continue to pursue prosecution for the most serious environmental offences, administrative penalties present an alternative option for a wide range of contraventions not requiring a public court process.

An intentions paper outlining these changes was posted on the ministry’s website for public consultation from January 21 through March 28, 2014.

The ministry remains committed to its policy of working with regulated parties to achieve voluntary compliance and to taking progressive enforcement action only when necessary.

The ministry will continue to engage with industry during implementation and work in partnership with the regulated community to ensure the best environmental outcomes.